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Warhammer 40k - Lexicanum β

The symbol of the Adepta Sororitas.[13]

The Adepta Sororitas (also known as "the Sisterhood" or "Daughters of the Emperor") are an all-female subdivision of the religious organisation known as the Ecclesiarchy or Ministorum. The Sisterhood's Orders Militant serve as the Ecclesiarchy's fighting arm, mercilessly rooting out corruption and heresy within humanity and every organisation of the Adeptus Terra.

The terms "Adepta Sororitas" and "Sisters of Battle" are commonly assumed to mean the same thing, but the latter title technically refers only to the Orders Militant - the military arm of the organisation which is the largest and the best-known part of the Sororitas.


The Sisterhood serves as the Ministorum's only official military forces because the Decree Passive rules that the Ecclesiarchy cannot maintain any "men under arms". This was supposed to limit the power of the Ecclesiarchy. However the Ministorum were able to circumvent this decree by using the all-female force of the Sisterhood.[Needs Citation]

There is naturally some overlap between the duties of the Sisterhood and the Inquisition; for this reason, although the Inquisition and the Sisterhood remain entirely separate organisations, the Orders Militant of the Sisterhood are the go-to favoured option when an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor needs soldiers. [17]


A Sister of Battle.[1f]


Main article: Age of Apostasy

Daughters of the Emperor

The Adepta Sororitas date their founding from the 36th Millennium, and more specifically from the later events of the Age of Apostasy. The Adepta Sororitas trace their origins to the world of San Leor. An order known as the "Daughters of the Emperor", an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the Emperor, had been discovered on San Leor by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Goge Vandire, the High Lord of the Administratum (and also Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum), decided to visit San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army. The Daughters at first refused to accept his authority. Vandire decided to show them that he was blessed by the Emperor - he instructed a soldier in his entourage to shoot him, which after a brief hesitation, he did. However, thanks to the protective field generated by the Rosarius of the Ecclesiarch (which no one but Vandire himself was aware of), Vandire was not harmed. The Daughters took this to be a sign, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. They were renamed the Brides of the Emperor, and became Vandire's most loyal followers.[1a]

Revelation and retribution

During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, the Adeptus Custodes, the praetorians of the Emperor himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire's treachery. In a last ditch effort to convince them, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they stood before the Emperor himself. What happened there remains unknown - Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy - but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to the title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator. Reportedly, Vandire's final words were "I don't have time to die - I'm too busy!"[1b]


After this episode, the newly appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor proclaimed the Decree Passive which forbade the Ecclesiarchy from having "men under arms". Under the literal interpretation of the decree the Adepta Sororitas, being female, were not obligated to disband. Thor, recognising the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of force and internal regulator, allowed them to remain even if the spirit of the decree was rather blatantly disregarded.[1c]

Later History


Adepta Sororitas Organization[14a]

Structure and Hierarchy

A Battle Sister of the Adepta Sororitas[7]

The Adepta Sororitas is part of the Ecclesiarchy and is divided between two Convents - the Convent Prioris located on Terra and the Convent Sanctorum based on Ophelia VII, although in practice their forces are spread throughout the Galaxy.[1d]

The overall commander and spiritual leader of the entire Sisterhood is the Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas, although the position is currently unoccupied.[3c] As the leader of the Adepta Sororitas, the Abbess is sometimes elected into the High Lords of Terra.[2d]

Below the Abbess are the Prioresses of the two Convents who are in charge of their Convent and the various Orders based there.[1d]

The Convents of the Sisterhood are organized into several Orders. The Orders each have different roles and responsibilities. There are four distinct classes of major Order, plus an unknown number of minor orders. The types of major Order are:

  • Orders Militant - The "Sisters of Battle", the military arm of the Sororitas
  • Orders Hospitaller - Surgeons, physicians and Nurses
  • Orders Dialogous - Scholars dealing with languages and translation
  • Orders Famulous - Diplomats, chamberlains and advisors for Imperial noble families[1d][1e]

It is not uncommon for a Sister to transfer from one of the Orders to another, particularly if a Battle Sister has become injured or is too old for combat they may transfer to one of the non-militant Orders.[3a]

Each of the major Orders follows the same basic hierarchical structure[2c]:

  • Order - Led by the head Canoness, called the Canoness Superior, who runs the entire Order.
  • Preceptory - A subsidiary convent or a large tactical detachment with up to 1,000 Sisters led by a Canoness Preceptor.
  • Commandery - Normally smaller convents or detachments of militant Sisters with up to 200 Sisters, led by a Canoness Commander.
  • Mission - The smallest organisation of Sisters, consisting of a few units and can be led by a Canoness or the lesser Palatine.

It should be noted that the non-militant Orders operate mainly at Mission and Commandery levels - Preceptory is a largely organisational tier. For example, a Commandery of the Order Hospitallier could be a staff of sisters working in a field hospital whilst a Mission of the Orders Famulous could be a handful of Sisters engaged in a trade delegation.[2c]

The Orders

Orders Militant

A Sister of Battle[14b]
Main article: Orders Militant

Commonly known as the Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant are the most numerous and well known of the Adepta Soritas. They are the only official fighting force of the Ecclesiarchy and often prosecute Wars of Faith. They also form the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus and often fight alongside the Inquisitors of that Ordo.[2b][2c]

Orders Militant
Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII) Convent Prioris (Terra)
Order of the Bloody Rose Order of the Sacred Rose
Order of Our Martyred Lady Order of the Ebon Chalice
Order of the Valorous Heart Order of the Argent Shroud
Lesser Orders Militant

Since their founding the Major Orders Militant have established a number of subsidiary convents at sites significant to the Ecclesiarchy. Sometimes little more than small Garrisons, these bases have developed identities distinct from their parent Orders over time, eventually becoming separate Orders all together. These smaller Orders are referred to as the Lesser Orders Militant. In theory the leaders of the Lesser Orders are answerable to the leaders of the Major Order that spawned them.[2a]

Named Lesser Orders Militant include

Orders Hospitaller

A Sister of the Orders Hospitaller[15]
Main article: Orders Hospitaller

The Sisters Hospitaller are surgeons, physicians and nurses. They aid the poor, and heal the sick and the wounded in many hospitals and clinics of the Sisterhood and serve in all departments of the Imperiums armed services except the Adeptus Astartes.[2c]

Orders Hospitaller
Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII) Convent Prioris (Terra)
Order of the Eternal Candle Order of the Cleansing Water
Order of Serenity Order of the Torch

Orders Dialogous

A Sister of the Orders Dialogus[16]
Main article: Orders Dialogous

The Sisters Dialogous help to translate the innumerable dialects and slangs used throughout the Imperium.[11] At the behest of the Inquisition and certain parties they also study Xenos languages[4], also translating texts obtained from Xeno artefacts. Sisters Dialogous are often employed as Sages in Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors' retinues.

Orders Dialogous
Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII) Convent Prioris (Terra)
Order of the Holy Word Order of the Sacred Oath
Order of the Quill Order of the Lexicon

Orders Famulous

Main article: Orders Famulous

The Sisters Famulous organise and maintain households of certain Imperial governors[9] and Imperial nobles, serving as advisors and by their very presence reminding them of their higher loyalties. They oppose any disloyalty with the support of faithful followers from the inside of the household itself[8].

Orders Famulous
Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII) Convent Prioris (Terra)
Order of the Key Order of the Holy Seal
Order of the Gate Order of the Sacred Coin
Lesser Orders Famulous

Minor Orders

There are also an unclear number of Minor Orders.

Ranks and Positions

  • Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas - the commander of the Convent Sanctorum on Terra; also the overall spiritual leader of the Sisterhood. In military matters she is assisted the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum. Although there is only a single Abbess, her full title is Abbess Sanctorum. Presently the position is vacant.
  • Prioress - the overall commander of a single convent.
  • Canoness - command rank, there are several subdivisions-
    • Canoness Superior - In command of an entire Order
    • Canoness Preceptor - In command of a Preceptory
    • Canoness Comander - In command of a Commandry
  • Palatine - command rank below Canoness
  • Sister Superior

Ranks of the Orders Militant

  • Celestian - Elite Battle Sisters, they often form squads of bodyguards for Cannonesses and Palatines.
  • Seraphim - only the very best Battle Sisters are elevated to the rank of Seraphim and are generally organized into specialize squads. Seraphim receive special training and equipment, primarily jump packs.
  • Dominion - Standard battle sisters with special weapons.
  • Retributor - Standard battle sisters with heavy weapons.
  • Battle Sister - the basic rank of Adepta Sororitas.

Notable members

Canon Conflicts

See also